(Extensions of Remarks - April 16, 2002)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E535-E536]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []



                           HON. NANCY PELOSI

                             of california

                    in the house of representatives

                        Tuesday, April 16, 2002

  Ms. PELOSI. Mr. Speaker, I rise to honor the life and work of a 
remarkable man, Father Peter Sammon, who died peacefully on March 21, 
2002 in San Francisco surrounded by loved ones. Father Sammon was an 
inspiration and a friend to so many people, and we are all forever 
grateful for his work. We will miss him terribly. The following are my 
remarks from his funeral on March 25th at St. Mary's Cathedral in San 
  It is with great personal sadness and official recognition of their 
loss that I extend my deepest sympathy to Tom Sammon and his entire 
family. All who loved Peter thank you for sharing him with us and for 
giving him so much happiness.
  To Sister Kathleen and Sister Lucia I extend condolences and 
appreciation to you for helping Father Sammon reach his fulfillment on 
earth and giving him the joy of a happy death. We can all hear him say: 
``Here I am Lord.''
  It should be a source of comfort to you at this very, very sad time 
that so many people mourn your loss and are praying for you. So many 
people were blessed by knowing Father Sammon. I want to express my 
appreciation for being allowed to bear witness to the life of Peter 
  Throughout his life Father Sammon carried on the legacy established 
by his namesake the Apostle Peter whose mission was bestowed upon him 
by Christ himself when he said ``Thou art Peter and upon this rock I 
will build my church.'' Peter Sammon was our rock and in his 50 years 
as a priest he continued to build Christ's Church. In doing so he 
touched so many lives. Whether as the Archdiocesan Director of Family 
Life counseling young couples, as the Chaplain of Newman Center at San 
Francisco State, or by forming the parish ministry with Presentation 
Sisters Kathleen and Lucia, he built the Church to do the Lord's work.
  This was pioneering work, a priest working with the sisters to form a 
parish ministry and training leadership among the laity; this was 
groundbreaking. Peter Sammon was a pioneer who broke new ground but 
never left the ground broken.
  He made the church the center of movements. Early on, he and Saint 
Teresa's Parish took up the cause of the Farm Workers and then the 
Salvadoran refugees. Four years and one day before his death, his 
friend and comrade in arms Jimmy Herman passed away. They were partners 
in many pursuits. We will all long remember their work together to turn 
back the ships carrying Salvadoran coffee, their refusal to unload the 
coffee. Fred Ross just reminded me this morning as we were crying of 
the sight of Father Sammon and Jimmy Herman on the docks refusing to 
unload the coffee from El Salvador.
  We take pride, but we must remember, those actions took courage.
  Father Sammon was our leader; he not only preached justice, he lived 
it. Injustice had an impact on Father Sammon that was palpable and he 
acted upon it. Whether in his leadership in the Sanctuary movement or 
working for immigrant rights or working for a living wage, Father 
Sammon always lived justice.
  Father Sammon considered himself lucky to be the son of Irish 
immigrants. It was through his understanding of the courage and 
determination of his parents, who came to America as teenagers, met 
here and raised their wonderful family, that he understood the 
magnificent contribution that Immigrants make to our country.
  Where some saw people in need, Father Sammon saw newcomers who 
constantly invigorate America with their courage, their hopes and their 
dreams. He saw their commitment to family values, to work and 
community. And he saw a spark of divinity worthy of respect in every 
one of them.
  Peter brought to his struggles the vision, the knowledge, a plan of 
action and the ability to attract supporters to his causes. He was a 
true leader and a great politician. All who were blessed to know him 
learned from him--not only what to do but how to do it. I certainly did 
and I know I speak for others who were so blessed. Father Sammon 
challenged the conscience of our society. We look at his work with 
pride but must remember that it took tremendous courage.
  The Bible tells us that to minister to the needs of God's creation is 
an act of worship, to ignore those needs is to dishonor the God who 
made us all. By that measure Father Sammon's entire life is an act of 
  In his life Father Sammon worked on the side of the angels. Now he is 
with them. Thanks be to God.

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